Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MIKE McCALL
Not so fast, Portland. We have a challenger.
After getting off to the kind of dominant start most expected, the past week has brought a bit of a reality check for the Thorns, courtesy of Sky Blue FC.
First, SBFC went up to Portland and upset the Thorns at home. Then, they put in another impressive performance this weekend that leaves them in a dead heat for first place — level on points, goal differential, goals scored and goals allowed.
And FC Kansas City landed a big result too, another sign that the National Women’s Soccer League season will be more than a one-horse race.
For more, check out our weekend recap and NWSL Power Rankings:
KANSAS CITY LEAPFROGS BOSTON
FC Kansas City made a big statement in the battle for third place, shutting out the Breakers’ high-powered attack and handing Boston its first loss, 2-0.
Rookie Renae Cuellar netted her fourth goal in five games and Lauren Cheney added the insurance, giving FCKC a victory even without injured U.S. national team defender Becky Sauerbrunn.
And with that, the NWSL’s last undefeated team has fallen.
SINCLAIR, MORGAN SCORE AGAIN
This should come as no surprise: Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan both scored in the Thorns’ 2-0 home win against the Washington Spirit on Saturday, bouncing back from a midweek loss in front of 12,474 at JELD-WEN Field.
Not a bad way for Portland to get back on track, and the club always loves to see Sinclair and Morgan find the net. For the Spirit, it was a disheartening follow-up to a 4-2 win at Seattle, and few would have expected that their defense would have allowed the second most goals in the league (11) thus far.
SKY BLUE BLOWS OUT SEATTLE
Until very recently, you could have dismissed SBFC as a team feasting off a favorable early season schedule — and it’s true that Sunday’s win over the last-place Reign was no monumental achievement.
But in topping Seattle 3-0, Sky Blue FC can now lay claim to being the best team in the NWSL. They hold an identical record to the Thorns (5-1-1), and both have scored 11 goals while allowing four. Beyond that, SBFC won their head-to-head matchup in Portland.
It’s looking more and more like this team is for real, and this weekend’s result only bolsters that opinion. Lisa De Vanna, Sophie Schmidt and Taylor Lytle did the scoring, leaving Schmidt tied for the league lead with four goals.
Here’s how they stand after Week Six:
1. Portland Thorns FC (5-1-1, 16 pts) – Two very different results this week, but odds are we’ll see more like the second one — a 2-0 win with goals from Sinclair and Morgan — in the weeks ahead. | (Last week: 1)
2. Sky Blue FC (5-1-1, 16 pts) – You can’t do much better than beating the Thorns at JELD-WEN and then smashing Seattle 3-0. Look out, league. | (3)
3. FC Kansas City (3-1-1, 10 pts) – A huge win for FCKC this week, and they’ll have a chance for another this week when SBFC visits. | (5)
4. Western NY Flash (2-2-1, 7 pts) – The Flash were idle and only drop because of big weeks from SBFC and FCKC. | (2)
5. Boston Breakers (2-1-2, 8 pts) – The loss to FCKC was the first crack in the Breakers’ armor. How will they respond? | (4)
6. Washington Spirit (1-3-3, 6 pts) – Spirit look clearly above the bottom two, but clearly below the top five. | (6)
7. Chicago Red Stars (0-3-2, 2 pts) – The Red Stars will play six of their next seven against the top four teams. Yikes. | (7)
8. Seattle Reign FC (0-6-1, 1 pt) – So far, the Reign are essentially a stimulus package for the rest of the league. Need a win? Come to Seattle! | (8)
Are you buying into Sky Blue FC? Will Seattle ever get a win? What’s wrong with Washington’s defense?
Share your thoughts below.